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A writer who finds beauty in everything

Prize-winning poet Ocean Vuong explores America's wounded psyche

Vietnamese women in training, 1968 © Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis

Vietnamese women in training, 1968 © Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis

Prize-winning poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a scintillating letter to a mother unlikely to ever read it. The reason is partly practical: she is illiterate. It is also because her son has grown beyond her recognition.

Little Dog—who owes his name to a Vietnamese belief that animal nicknames can ward off hungry spirits—is born in 1988 in a banana leaf-thatched hut just outside Saigon. Twenty-eight years later, he is a successful writer fresh from…

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